Saturday, August 12, 2023

Croc Watch: Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles (2001)

Watched:  08/11/2023
Format:  Amazon 
Viewing:  First
Director:  Some Guy

In 2001, I recall the arrival of Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles and my own reaction of "what?  why?"  

In 1986, I was an enthusiastic viewer of the original Crocodile Dundee and a dutiful watcher of Crocodile Dundee II a scant two years later.  We're releasing a podcast on Crocodile Dundee this week, and after watching, Jamie showed enough curiosity about the threequel that I was willing to give it a go.  Maybe find answers to that "...but why?"

Honestly - I don't think anyone, even Paul Hogan, really knows why they made this movie.  It's not evident from the film that they had a story to tell or anyone was particularly enthusiastic about the idea.  There's no compelling narrative, but a series of listless and sluggish fish-out-of-water gags that make no sense given the 2 years of Dundee in New York, and a few that are just "hey, you'd also be confused if you were in a high end bathroom with a remote with no instructions" wacky moments.  It's essentially trying to repeat gags from the first movie (substitute a jacuzzi tub for a bidet) to worse effect.  

Whereas the first movie is bifurcated between the outback and Manhattan, this movie spends at least 2/3rds in LA.  Weirdly, it tries a framework of Sue being put in charge of the LA bureau by her dad and swiftly uncovers the guy she's replacing was possibly murdered - but... nobody cares.  Not really.  No one mourns the guy who died, and Sue only seems tepidly interested.  If clues didn't keep shoving themselves in her face, she wouldn't care one way or another.  And Mick's interest seems mostly based in having literally nothing better to do.

So, the rest is, like, Mick stabbing an animatronic snake.  Mick meeting Mike Tyson (if this movie hoped for celebrity cameos, all they get is Tyson and George Hamilton).  Mick using magical powers to wrangle a chimp on a set.

If the first film was all about a big city gal finding charm in the ultra-masculinity of a hickish backwoodsman (and fair enough as a plot.  We discuss this in the podcast and we accept it) this movie has only the faintest echo of that charm.  Linda Kozlowski seems disinterested and uncomfortable in her own skin in a way she absolutely was not in the first two films.  It's like she agreed to be in the movie for continuity, but wasn't really *that* interested in being in it, so she's there in body if not in spirit.

But that can be said for everyone.  

The excuse for the plot we compared to Brigadoon.  It would appear every 30 minutes throughout the movie, as if from the mists, and then retreat for Reader's Digest level non-chuckles for incredibly long stretches.  I don't know what the story is, but the pacing of this movie is glacial.  Like every cut has long pauses between lines and way, waaaaaay too long from start of a scene to the punchline, that just never really pays off.  

The director has done stuff I thought was "fine" to "could have been worse" before this.  Here, he must have been doing work-for-hire and running.

Part of the problem is that Mick isn't supposed to be dumb, but he is.  He's supposed to be clever, but he makes mistakes like a dumb asshole who can't read the room and then leaves the room after causing chaos, mostly unaware of what he's done.  That tension worked in the first film and was moot for the second (if memory serves) as they reversed flow and returned to Australia so Mick could become bushwhacking Batman.  But here?  He's been living with a sophisticate for 15 years.  He's just choosing to be a dummy.

Anyway, the gag doesn't work, and that's all it is.  Introducing a kid into the movie doesn't really improve things, and, in fact, signals the "why" of the softening of some of the humor.  Except that this movie also wants you to know it's about Mick being sexy if knife-wielding saddle bags are your jam.  And your kid commenting on a woman's ass is a good, wry chuckle.

Add in some old white guy racism, sexism and the patented queer-panic and transphobia of the first film, and it really may be that Hogan and Co. were stranded in the outback since the mid-80's.  But you gotta hit those same beats from the first film.

I guess I kind of hated this movie.  

Apparently law suits were thrown around about who had written this, but the only reason that happened was because the writers needed full credit for full pay.  They really didn't want to be associated with the film.

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